Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Louisiana Higher Education Officials to Reorganize State's Technical Colleges

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Louisiana Higher Education Officials to Reorganize State's Technical Colleges

Article excerpt

BATON ROUGE, LA.

Louisiana's higher education officials are making moves to address efficiency and access as they continue to rebuild in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"The window's open and we're going to run as far and as fast as we can till somebody shuts it," says Louisiana Higher Education Commissioner Dr. E. Joseph Savoie.

At Savoie's recommendation, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System's (LCTCS) governing board in March approved a sweeping reorganization of the state's 40 technical colleges, promising to save money and improve access to higher education in most parts of the state.

The plan teams groups of technical colleges with a community college in the same region.

Using instructors from their regional community college, the technical campuses will for the first time offer accredited college-level courses that can be applied toward a four-year bachelor's degree.

Previously, the technical college general education courses were accredited only by the Council on Occupational Education, and weren't accepted by universities and community colleges.

The community and technical colleges were due for a reorganization even before the storms struck the region, but Katrina and Rita forced the state to accelerate the plan.

Concerned about redundant administrative structures, the state Legislature passed a resolution last year directing Savoie to recommend a new organizational structure for the technical schools.

The LCTCS governing board accepted Savoie's recommendations and adopted a plan expected to save up to $1.5 million per year by cutting administrative jobs.

"The legislature has raised a lot of issues about inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, and so this is a response to that. But the hurricane has certainly put it in passing gear," Savoie says.

LCTCS President Walter Bumphus says the reorganization will move decision-making and management toward the local level and improve the quality of the educational offerings at the technical campuses.

Bumphus says he's excited about the opportunity for students at the technical and community colleges to take four-year college credits under the new plan. Because some of the technical colleges are so small, LCTCS officials had little choice but to group them as part of the reorganization, he says. …

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